A while back I decided that emotionally, my novel was too jokey, if that makes any sense. The tone, for a novel dealing with memories and what they mean to people, as well as the ties that bind families together, was simply too light-hearted in many places.
So I decided to shake up proceedings by adding in a new character, a character who right at the start of the novel would lose someone that she barely knew. I wanted to avoid the tired cliché of it being someone she knew well — losing siblings or parents at the start of a fantasy novel is par for the course, so I wanted to explore how you might react if you lost someone you didn’t really know. How does that change the emotional resonance? Does it weigh on you the same way.
I think it will be a real test of my skill as a writer if I can make people really think about this, and if I can pull it off realistically. The advice always given to writers is “write what you know”: this is one of those times where I’ve ignored that. One of several times, if I’m honest!
Chapter Six is a fairly crucial point in the novel. It’s not that far in — not even to the 1/4 way point yet — and in its previous draft it was a fairly straightforwards affair. However, with the addition of this new character, I also wanted to give some more screentime to Seb, who in many ways gets a bit of raw deal for much of the novel as it stands. Seb, like many of the characters in the novel, has his secrets, and a big one gets revealed towards the end.
But, because of adding Brigid, the newer character, I saw the opportunity to shift the revelation much further up in the narrative. The outcome for the characters by the end will be mostly the same, but there will again be a much more mature tonal shift throughout the initial section of the novel.
And its causing me some headaches. I’ve actually rewritten Ch6 from scratch twice now, and its a helluva lot more interesting than it was, but its proving a real headache just to get the tone right at the end of the chapter. I released ch1-3 (+prologue) to my proofreaders before Christmas, so I wanted to release 4-6 as a block before Feb half term. I’ve certainly got the time left to polish this section up. It’s just proving awkward, so I’m writing about writing it to try and put it into some meta perspective in my head.